Published between 1989 and 1992, Good and Plenty was a punk and hardcore fanzine that was ambitious like no other. Created almost singlehandedly by music lover Gabe Rodriguez, started while still at high school, its glorious seven issues featured ballsy, thought-provoking interviews with bands like Gorilla Biscuits, Bold, Judge and Side by Side, housed in a to-the-point but creative graphic style that was all its own. While the photocopier was a revolutionary tool for zine-makers, allowing them to publish and distribute their work affordably, by issue four of Good and Plenty, Gabe was offset printing the zine – a perk of his after-school job at a family-run printer – something unheard of for a fanzine in 1990.
This pioneering and passionate publication is the focus of a new book from Draw Down, whose co-founder Christopher Sleboda has been a huge fan of Good and Plenty since high school. Big into skateboarding, punk rock and hardcore, Christopher sent away the $0.75 for his first issue and what came back opened him up to the possibilities of graphic design. “When we started Draw Down in 2012, we were very interested in spotlighting little known publications, in bringing independently distributed zines into the spotlight along with more commercial titles,” says co-founder Kathleen Sleboda. “Doing something with _Good and Plenty_ was at the top of our list of goals.”
It’s clear to see when leafing through the book, called Hardcore Fanzine, why Christopher and Kathleen were so keen to explore Good and Plenty. The dense blackness of the offset ink gives a richness to the illustrations and photography, while the pair bring our attention to other high-grade details such as the two-colour duotone cover and coloured card stock Gabe used for the colours.
“In terms of layout, Rodriguez wasn’t interested in overly expressive or experimental design, but rather highly-functional and extremely-efficient presentations,” says Kathleen. “He packed in a lot of high-quality content (both text and images), wasting no space, and favouring legibility over style. The grid was employed intuitively.” Kathleen draws our attention to one of the many excellent essays in the book, called Maximum Volume, where writer Gabriel Melcher describes Good and Plenty’s design. “The layout feels like a stream of consciousness,” he writes. It’s true, there’s something intuitive but incredibly accomplished in Good and Plenty’s design, strengthened by the usual illustration style and punchy photography. “The result is that zines like _Good and Plenty_ became natural time capsules, capturing a particular moment in time for a specific subculture,” says Kathleen.
Designed by Partition, Draw Down’s in-house design studio, it’s clear that Hardcore Fanzine is every bit the labour of love for Kathleen and Christopher that Good and Plenty was to Gabe in the early 90s. Tracking him down via the internet, Christopher and Kathleen were thrilled to find that Gabe still had all the original paste-ups for all seven issues. “We had only previously seen the published zines, which were always printed in high contrast black and white; the mock-ups featured original photographic prints,” says Kathleen. “It was a thrill to see all the production details up close: the impressions of the typewriter Gabe used, the columns of text still carefully taped into the spreads.”
Featuring a facsimile of every page from every issue, Hardcore Fanzine also brings together essays from some of the leading thinkers around the subculture and key members of the bands, as well as from Gabe himself. Together they heart-warmingly demonstrate the importance of this short-running publication, to the industry and fans alike. “In many ways, putting out a zine was like setting up a flare signal: ‘I’m here! We’re here!’ so a zine functioned as both a vessel for ideas and a message in a bottle – one never knew who might reply,” says Kathleen. “For kids, teens, and adults, the friendships that grew up through the exchange of zines could offer a real sense of camaraderie and community.” It’s obvious from Hardcore Fanzine that although Good and Plenty is over, that community is very much alive.